Paul Benedek, Brisbane
"This bridge will mean more cars, more pollution, more asthma, more road deaths, and it will be the vulnerable — pensioners and children — that will suffer the most", a resident told a rowdy June 20 meeting discussing the construction of the four-lane toll bridge from Milton to West End.
The 120-strong community meeting was chaired by pro-bridge Liberal Party Brisbane City councillor Graham Quirk, and addressed by Labor councillor Helen Abrahams and members of the Hale Street Bridge project team.
The scores of questions about the "Hale Street Link" bridge revealed overwhelming community opposition. Many were parents of Brisbane State High School students who fear the toll bridge will result in more traffic and therefore more dangerous roads and serious health side-effects. One parent, Janet Lewis, asked: "Why do private schools always have safety tunnels with their students never being exposed to cars?"
Many were angry that the "community consultation" only catered for different bridge options. "Where is the option for no bridge?", asked West End resident Brian Laver. Speakers from the floor noted that past experience showed that building more roads never reduces traffic. "Stop spending money on encouraging more cars, spend it on public transport", said one speaker to loud applause. Others noted that the impact assessment statement is a toothless tiger that gives recommendations that can then be ignored. Greens spokesperson Drew Hutton challenged Abrahams, whose party has a majority in council, to stop the bridge "or step aside".
[For more information go to: <http://stopthehalestreetbridge.org>.]
From Green Left Weekly, June 28, 2006.
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